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Straw Bale Gardening (Part 9)

Wake Forest, NC

Past Discussions:

Part 1: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/584625/
Part 2: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/590925/
Part 3: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/598673/
Part 4: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/614124/
Part 5: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/631772/
Part 6: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/680745/
Part 7: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/694756/
Part 8: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/703545/

We invite you to put your bale garden on our map at www.frappr.com/strawbalegardeners

Let's continue our discussion.

Kent

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Foggy; Welcome, Sure you can put plastic, wood, weed preventer cloth or just mulch. or even just mow the grass between the rows of bales. Sounds like you got an extention on life. Go slow and enjoy it all. Good luck ! I'm just starting in straw bale garden, sounds great to me. I will however have some in dirt yet as I put in root crops as well. Im 70 and pretty darn good now, but I did have a set back in 96 with a ruptured disc in my lower back. Two years and I began to improve, so that wasn't too bad. But am very gratefull for all I can do.
Russ

Wake Forest, NC

foggy: Welcome aboard, sir. Good to have you with us.

Like Russ said, you can put anything down you like that you think will cut down on the edging. If you use newspaper, make sure the ink in the paper is soy-based. It's my understanding the other type inks are not good for use in a garden. Ask the newspaper company.

However, if you don't cover the whole area between the bales, you're still going to have to cut the grass with your lawnmower anyway, so consider how that will work with the material you use.

I used newspaper as an edging for my running cucumbers last year. I'll probably use some sort of weed cloth this year.

Kent

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

Welcome Foggy, I am the oldest probably of all of you doing the Straw bale gardening , I will be 81 this year and am trying the bale gardening for the first time this year. It didn't feel like spring here today. Was 30 degrees most of the night and had to cover some plants i had just planted in pots, also brought the flat of tomatoes inside for the night. Only got to 51 degrees today with a strong south wind. So too early for me to plant anything in the bales.

Donna

Wake Forest, NC

Donna: 81! that's awesome!! I gotta ask where "rutholive" comes into play?

All: OK, who's the youngest? Anyone in their 20's?

Kent

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Rep-resentin ... FORTIES ... in da house.

South/Central, FL(Zone 9a)

I've been 29 for years. LOL

~Lucy

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I am 29 with 18 years experience. LOL

Welcome Foggy.

Weatherford, TX(Zone 7b)

I just had my third 16th birthday in Jan.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Don''t EVEN ASK!

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I think we got a lot of clowns in the house. 67. Whoops, 68. LOL

Foggy, I am putting the weed blocking fabric under my whole area this year. I did have some weeds come up in between. I used newspaper under mulch in my perennial bed and that has worked out well. I used the fabric under my portable greenhouse the last 3 years and it did great also.

Welcome aboard!! And good health!!

Jeanette

marshville,, NC(Zone 8a)

oops!!...sorry I wasn't clear, I'm a Ma'am, not a sir......my name is Sally, but I named our farm Foggywalk & foggy seemed appropriate for my personality so i adopted it.

another question,....a friend gave me several crates of compost starter from an auction......would that be a good thing to add with the ammonium nitrate?...It's only biological, but it might add heat & hasten the process of readying the bales, anyone know? would it hurt to try?

We put the weed blocker down yesterday afternoon after I heard from you guys & today I am taking an edger & poking the edge of the blocker into the sod about 3 inches to make a nice straight edge & so i can run my mower over it.....this looks really neat ...I'll get pictures when i can. We tried an upside down garden last year & put 5 gallon buckets suspended between posts, it didn't work well because it was hard to water & things dried out...but the bales are going between the posts and we are attaching cattle fencing to the back as a trellis

Donna, i am just thrilled with you gardening at 81, you're my hero(ine) i want to be like you!

Thank you all for your good wishes.....
Foggy

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

We had another good thunder storm last night. I think God is trying to make sure my bales get enough water. LOL I can use all the help I can get. Right????
Guess I better go put some more blood meal and fertilizer down, although I think I'll wait till it warms-up a bit as its still only 35 outside. Believe we will go down to the local coffee shop and think about it. he he he
Well Foggy I must admit I mistook your name also. But the welcome still holds!
As well as the good wishes.

Wow I can't take it easy now, The Mail carrier just knocked on the door, brought us two fruit trees. Guess I will have mud them in and put in a couple posts to support them. Still think we'll go have coffee first LOL
Russ

Wake Forest, NC

Russ: 10-4 on that java, especially w/those temps. I think better over a hot cup of Joe, too! I'm fixing to start my afternoon/evening shift after being off on my 4-day break, and I always run by the deli in my area to get a big ol glass of tea to sip on until my supper break. It's been in the 80's here last few days, but back down freezing at night around Easter weekend.

Kent

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Like those 4 day breaks. Well Used too any way. What is your normal shift , 10 or 12hr. I know it can be 24, Hopefully it is a little quieter than that.
The cup of joe let me rethink the mudding in. I'll just put them in a bucket of water for a few days. Will be cold all week, or most of 2 weeks yet. I know there will be some brave soles out on friday planting potatoes. Since I just broke off some sprouts and stuck them in a flat and they are already growing, I think I will wait with those. Up here it's good friday when they want the regular taders in.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

Well it didn't freeze last night, first frost free night for more than a week. Still no sign of any moisture from above, more than two months now.

Ruth Olive was my mother, should have taken more time to figure out a better name, didn't realize 5 or 6 six years ago when I started with DG how important the name really is.. Thanks foggywalk.

Yesterday I took my thermometer out to the bales, struck it in one of the loosely baled straw ones, didn't move. So then put it in my one tight bale and went up to 65 degrees immediately. I should have spent a few more dollars and bought the larger tighter ones. Even tho no frost last night, much too cold to plant anything in them

I am soaking my Morning Glory , Ricinus, and Hyacinth beans now.

Donna

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Donna, what do you think about maybe putting some plastic over your bales. If you have them wet and the sun comes out they would start to steam, seems to me. I know you would have to water them, but you wouldn't have to put the plastic on them tight. If you did that until the weather warms up it seems to me your bales would be on the way to composting.

I guess by using the hoophouse with the visquine on it I am doing the same thing. I just don't have my bales yet even. So, don't dispair.

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

BTW Donna, we could always have called you Ruth except that you signed Donna. LOL

Jeanette

Fairmont, WV(Zone 6a)

I've been following this link pretty much since the beginning, but here's a question I don't remember seeing addressed (or I missed it, which is also entirely possible): Has anyone tried using round bales? Unrolling them and planting in them? I'm thinking the hay/straw would be too loose once it was unrolled, but I'm having a heck of a time finding square bales of anything here this year.

BTW I'm celebrating the 10th anniversary of my 29th birthday this year. I take after my mom in this respect, who was 29 until I was in high school. :)

pam

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Hi Pam,

Glad to see you. "hear"? LOL. No, I have never tried the round bales. They are so big I cannot imagine even trying to do anything with them. Plus, they are hay, not straw, but if that is all you can get????? I don't know what to tell you. Maybe someone else can.

I would think that even if they only have round bales of hay that there must still be someone that cuts the straw after the hay is harvested?? I don't know. It has been a long time since I have been around a farm. Guess we need to hear from a farmer.

Good luck, Jeanette

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Sigh. It seems my (hay) bales are finally ready to plant, and I can't do it!! It's gonna be way too cold to put anything out until at least Tuesday. Arrrrrghhhh!!
Also, my bales are supposedly all from the same cutting, but they seem to be "curing" differently. Out of 21 bales, only 2 have mushrooms, but they each have a substantial crop, tho I think they'll disintegrate with the cold. None of the bales have grown any "grass", but I have seen a few black _crickety_ critters jump off when I water. Think they're a problem? Some of the bales seem to be more decomposed than the others, so I guess I'll just have to see what happens .
Margo (trying to figure out what plants to cover, and what I have to sacrifice.....)

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

I have heard of someone unroling a big round bale, and planting potatoes in it but useing some potting soil, sand and saw dust to cover the hay, to make sure that the potatoes were all in the dark. So there wouldn't be any green ones.
But when you are looking to use a round bale, you are handleing 1500lbs. or better per bale.
Around here they are also puting up corn stalks in round bales. To be honest if round bales was all I could get, I would have to compost them first. Don't think I could handle them. Lets see what Kent would say!!!

Wake Forest, NC

Pam: don't know of anyone in my area trying to unroll a round bale; we did talk about planting in a round bale last year; kind of brainstorming about putting in something like cukes and let them run across the top and over the sides. More of a novelty idea than anything else. No one attempted it.

catmad: yep, some cold nights ahead for the next few days; maybe that'll be the last frost; ever since the early daylight savings time change and the warm weather, folks around my area have gone crazy planting flowers, etc, forgetting that we always seem to get a frost in early to mid-April.

My bales did the same as yours; not every bale cured out at the same rate and some had mushrooms and others didn't; seems to be the norm; no problemo with the crickets; I get them, too, along with an occasional spider that scampers out when I water the bales.

Russ: I've never seen corn stalks rolled up, but I can see where that would be more common in Iowa.

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Some of the corn stalk bales are ground up and mixed in with other feed. about the same principal as corn silage. Also with the advant of Ethanol, not just the corn is cooked. And that ain't all bad as that has been the home to a large population of the corn borer. not only the stalks ( the borers home for the winter)
but the borer gets his goose cooked too. But some use it to let the ( cows) eat from it and trample the rest into the mud. which would decompose. and can be spred on the fields at a later date. Works as good as straw when it comes to a bedding
I've been off and away the farming part a long time. but I remember one time when I was a little short person there was corn stalks , ground up and stored dry in the barn, dad called it fodder, a few years later there was a silo built on that farm. and the corn that wasn't going to produce very well was chopped and stored in the silo wet. The cattle loved that stuff. I was just big enough to drive a tractor, pitch enough of that silage out of the silo into a wagon then pitch it into the feed bunks. I guess that today that would be child abuse. or even child endangerment. Think I was 11 at the time.
Oh well I don't think it hurt me any.

Wake Forest, NC

russ: finishing up my supper break at Arbys and enjoyed reading your post; memory lane time for sure.

As a kid/teenager I never worked with silage, but I've cleaned/shoveled out many a chicken house and loaded the manure and old shavings in an old-fashioned manure spreader that threw the manure out the back as you drove it around the fields; blew manure dust out my nose for a week it seemed!

Then there's the tobacco fields with some farmers using mules and drags and others using tractors. Always hated priming that 1st row early in the morning with all the dew still on the leaves.

Getting up hay was hot, dusty work. You could always tell a rookie was helping out when they showed up with shorts and short sleeves!! That was a self-correcting problem for sure! One farmer had a contraption that would grab the hay bales in the field and throw the bale up into the truck to the person stacking. Didn't need a body in the field. I thought that invention was awesome!

As a kid I've ridden on every part of a tractor you could stand, sit, or hold on to.

Been dog bit, horse bit, tick bit, spider bit, and bit by some things I couldn't even name.

Swam in creeks and ponds with and without clothes. Swinging off vines and ropes like Tarzan and acting like Cheeta!

Caught lightning bugs in a mayonnaise jar and licked the nectar off honeysuckle.

Yep, you're right, some of those things are probably called abuse in today's world, but back then we called it LIFE!

Thank you, God, for bringing me up in the country!

Russ, now see what you did, made me ramble on like a dang fool! :-)

Gotta go serve some papers. (Hit it, fellas!)

"bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when I come for you?"

Kent

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Wonderful tale of Memories, Kent!

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

It don't hurt to ramble once in a while. A lot of times it brings a smile to sombody, who may not other wise had any thing to smile about. I for one like to smile.
Gee I didn't even tell about the time my brother decided we should catch and skin a skunk. Did you know your mother won't let you in the house, when you have been sprayed.???????
Yup found that out. Had to take a bath outside. and rinse in vinigar water.
Never done that again!!!

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

rand, and did you know even tiny baby skunks can spray, one did that to me, used a lot of tomato juice to wash. HaHa.

When I was a youngster, and the oldest of three, my dad had 17 acres of alfalfa hay and I was his right hand man!!!!!!!! After the hay was cut and dried we hauled it in to the barn. It was my job to sit on the front of the wood slip and drive the team, while Dad tossed the loose hay on the slip. It was a hot, dusty, itchy job. Now looking back all those years it must have been dangerous too, but never thought of that. Like Kent said it was LIFE.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Today going to town I noticed a fluffy black and white ball about 2-3 inches across blowing down the road. I rolled the window down for a better view... Phew! It was a fluff of skunk fur. Window went back up FAST!

Weatherford, TX(Zone 7b)

Been dog bit,horse bit,tick bit,spider bit and sun bit. Life was grand as a child. Fun~

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Yup life was sure different then. I think one of my very first jobs was to lead the horse on the hay fork rope. back and forth. to lift the loose hay up into the barn.
Whoops were getting off track here. ha ha
I almost felt foolish yesterday, standing out in 35 degree weather watering my bales. wondering if this was going to be worth the trouble. all the while saying to myself no hoe no till. Even thought about ( global warming) gee that would be nice wouldn't it. LOL

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

Got another one to add to your no hoeing, no tilling, no weeding -- no dogs digging. I had to put deer netting up over my raised beds to keep them out. They haven't given the bales a second look. Ha, ha. = - )

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Yup that sounds good. I don't remember rabbits bothering tomatoes. but that would put them up out of reach for them as well. Even though I"M right next to a field I only remember one deer walking through my yard and out the drive way. Aparrently they have all they want out in the field. Was wondering, did you use blood meal on your bales????

Tuscaloosa, AL(Zone 7b)

No, I used ammonium nitrate. Considering the problems some folks have had buying it, I anticipated problems, too. The fellow at the local Farmers Co-op never even blinked when I asked for it. Go figure.

My bales are ready and I have the plants. If it wasn't for this cold spell the last couple of nights and the next 3 nights, I would have had them all planted on Wednesday. We get temps about 5-10 degrees lower than forcasted. I guess it's because we're about 15 miles out of town and up on a hill. But the good side of that is it works the same way in the summer, too. Sure is nice then.

Karen

Wake Forest, NC

Karen: speaking of deer, I've got my Liquid Fence ready to go as soon as I get my plants in. I'd come home on night shift and find 4 or 5 deer in my yard. They did take a few nips from my plants in the bales but the spray put a stop to that.

I've been watching my potato plants to see if any deer had tried those. They are coming up nicely in the old straw from last year.

Russ: had plenty of rabbits in the yard, too, but never saw one up on the bales. Growing up my daddy would plant so many tomatoes that ran all over the ground. I would always find a tomato or two that had some good chunks eaten out by a terrapin.

Speaking of getting chilled, I was out watering my bales the other day with just shorts and a t-shirt at the beginning of this little cold snap of ours we now have. Started getting a little cool and then I started daydreaming about my Navy tour of duty in Hawaii and felt a little better.

Which reminds me, ya'll just gotta put this site in your favorite places:

http://www.honolulu.gov/multimed/waikiki.asp

I pull it up all the time, especially during cold, rainy weather and park it in the corner of my screen while I do other things. Brings back alot of good memories for me.

Aloha, Kent

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

I'm not sure of fond memories; maybe a little envy. Spent a whole weekend there in 64 but it seemed that every other time our ship pulled in, I wound up being on duty. Had to settle for some sun on the flight deck.

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Terrapins(sp?)are a garden pest around here, too. When I was in middle school our bus driver would deliberately run over every turtle in the road. When I protested he explained about them eating stuff in his garden. Still was upsetting, I've always remembered it.

Kent, glad to hear your potatoes are doing well. I'll sure want to try that next year if yours works out :~) Thanks so much for all the time you spend on this thread and educating people in general about this way of gardening. Apparently it's spreading far and wide and helping many people garden when they wouldn't be able to in the "normal" way.

Lana

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Lana, where do you find time to look at the garden forum, much less do any gardening when you and Tammie are doing the coop? So, tell me how you are going to get the Watersorb to the plants in the strawbales? It is all I can do to find room for the roots of the tomatoes. How many crystals do you put in each plant? And do you end up putting the plant roots directly in the crystals?

Jeanette

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

Jnette, I confess, Tammie is doing all the work I'm just helping with a little of the organization :~) I have spent more time recently with dog rescue. I'm a home visit coordinator for an Anatolian Shepherd Dog Rescue www.nasrn.com. It's been very busy the past couple weeks. I have no idea how I'm going to get the crystals into the straw/hay. But I'm determined to do it to help conserve water. We have a cistern and haul all our water so water conservation is important to us. I want dh to set up a water catch system from our roof for garden watering especially since the garden will be on the far side of the pond, walkway, flowers, and septic tank/leach bed. I don't want to have to haul the hose all that way twice daily to water. If we set up a catch system on that side of the house it will help immensely. Gardening this way is suppose to make things easier on me and my back/neck problems not harder :~) If you put crystals in with the seeds or seedlings if you pot up to a larger size the roots will grow right into the crystals and you'd plant them that way. If I have to put the crystals in the bale with the plant I'll put the crystals in dry so they'll go in there easier and then water like crazy until they expand. I hope to put in a half to one tsp with each plant.

Lana

Wake Forest, NC

Lana: thanks for the compliment.

You know, if I saw someone intentionally hit an animal, even a turtle or terrapin, possum, whatever, I'd charge them with cruelty to animals, and any traffic charge I could come up with! No excuse for what your bus driver did. A terrapin's not going to do that much damage.

I've stopped my patrol car in the middle of the road (when it was prudent and safe) with all my lights flashing and stopped traffic to help a terrapin across the road. Most folks gave me a "thumbs up".

russ: I had a year and a half at Pearl. Loved every minute of it. Only been back once since '82. I watch Magnum PI all the time to remind me of what it was like when I was there. Never got a chance to meet Tom Selleck, though.

Kent

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